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Editorial: Growing our own startups in Buffalo Niagara

Building a startup culture requires patience, just like building a new startup company. Not every bet is a winner, but you have to be in the game to have a shot.

The culmination of 43North’s latest competition, including the awarding of its $1 million grand prize on Wednesday night, is further evidence that Buffalo Niagara’s efforts at nurturing a startup-friendly climate are gathering steam. It all augurs well for this reinvigorated city.

Consider:

• A St. Louis company, called Strayos, that makes a product to help mining and construction companies to see underground, claimed the grand prize. Its founder, Ravi Sahu, said Strayos will relocate to Buffalo and plans to hire 12 people, drawing on engineering expertise from the University at Buffalo. Good for Strayos and good for Buffalo.

• Also at Wednesday’s event, Mary Wilson, wife of the late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, announced the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is donating $3 million to 43North, which held the sixth edition of its competition and awarded $4.5 million in prize money. That will help secure the competition that is seeding Buffalo’s entrepreneurial future.

• The 43North grand prizewinner from 2018, SparkCharge Inc., recently signed a three-year lease for space in the Northland Central advanced manufacturing hub, keeping the clean-technology company here well beyond the one-year required for competition winners.

• The inaugural Startup Week Buffalo was held downtown in mid-September. It is a conference organized by Techstars Buffalo, a paid partnership between 43North and the global business accelerator Techstars, of Boulder, Colo. Techstars co-founder Brad Feld attended 43North’s Upstate Startup Summit this week here, which brought together investors and some 50 startup companies.

• UB in March officially launched its Innovation Hub, a research and idea incubator backed by a $32 million commitment from Gov. Andrew M Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion II initiative.

The 43North winner, Strayos, can look for inspiration to ACV Auctions, a technology company that makes a used car application. ACV has grown to more than 800 employees, 300 based in Buffalo, since it won 43North’s grand prize in 2015, making it our region’s most successful new technology firm.

The seeds are being planted. Some will take years to sprout, but the work is underway.

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